ASHLAND, Ohio – On April 22, the weather in Ashland is still soggy, raw and downright unpleasant. The AU bats were anything but soggy, raw and unpleasant on Friday (April 22) as they backed up junior Aaron Hilt's (Richmond, Ohio/Edison) one-hit gem in AU's 10-0 win over Wayne State at Donges Field.
The shutout was Ashland's eighth of the season, which is a school record. The previous record of seven was established five times, last in 2004.
Friday's game was scheduled to be the first game of a doubleheader, but the second game was canceled after steady rains fell throughout the afternoon. The teams will play their regularly-scheduled doubleheader on Saturday (April 23) at 12 p.m.
Hilt (5-1) was marvelous pitching through the rain, keeping the Wayne State batters off balance with a mix of fastballs, off-speed and breaking pitches. The only hit he allowed was a soft poke down the right-field line with two outs in the first inning.
The Ashland offense scored in every inning but the sixth. The Eagles (25-12, 14-8 GLIAC) scored twice in the first inning on a two-run single by junior Mitch Klein (Gahanna, Ohio/Lincoln). A single and two walks loaded the bases with two outs for Klein, who fought off a 2-2 pitch into right field for the game's first runs.
Senior Matt McAllester (Westlake, Ohio) scored AU's third run with the help of two errors in the second inning. Freshman Wade Kaido (Zanesville, Ohio) drew a lead-off walk, but was put out on McAllester's fielder's choice. Senior John Kuzio (Marion, Ohio/Pleasant) reached on an error and freshman Tyler Gray (Plain City, Ohio/Jonathan Alder) singled off the glove of first baseman Ryan Buter, letting McAllester score from second.
The Eagles broke the game open in the third inning with five runs on four hits and an error. The first six batters went like this: double, single, single, reached on error, single and hit by pitch. Senior Evan Melendez (Amherst, Ohio/Steele) doubled and scored on Klein's single. The single by sophomore Shayne Herold (LeRoy, N.Y./Genesee CC) and put runners on second and third for freshman Adam Murphy (West Carrollton, Ohio), who blooped a two-run single down the right-field line. McAllester was hit by a pitch and a fielder's choice put runners on the corners. Gray finished the scoring with an RBI groundout.
With two outs in the fourth inning Klein scored on a wild pitch after he drew a one-out walk and went to third on a dropped fly ball by center fielder Kyle Vesey.
Ashland added its final run in the fifth inning as Kuzio and Gray drew lead-off walks. Melendez singled to load the bases with one out and Klein followed with a sacrifice fly to straight-away center field.
Hilt retired nine in a row at one point and was economical with his pitches until the seventh when he put himself in a jam with a walk and two hit batters. He got C.J. Maszal to ground into a game-ending fielder's choice to preserve the shutout, his first of the season.
Hilt lowered his ERA to 0.82 and is just four innings shy of qualifying for the conference leaderboard. He would be tied with teammate Ajay Meyer (Hamler, Ohio/Owens CC) for the league's best mark.
The right-hander walked three, struck out two and hit three batters. He also ran his scoreless innings streak to 24. The last run he allowed came against Grand Valley State on April 3.
Klein led the offensive attack with four RBI, going 2-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored. Melendez was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and a run scored. Murphy was 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored.
Starter Alex Pierse (4-2) took the loss for the Warriors, allowing seven runs (five earned) on six hits with three walks and a strikeout in two-plus innings of work. Andrew Ciennik had the only hit for Wayne State on the day.
The teams will gather on Saturday (April 23) for a doubleheader at Donges Field with first pitch set for 12 p.m.